In “Where are you Going, Where are you from,” Joyce Carol Oates tells us a disturbing story that involves an unknown stranger who apparently has supernatural powers. What I thought was most interesting about the story was the way in which Connie reacted to Arnold Friend,…
n the two of them, like her mother used to be the same was once and understands what she is going through, and that Connie somehow knows this and so there’s that different level of their relationship as well. Connie’s belief that her mother likes her more also suggests this.
What’s more interesting though, and even a little bit disturbing, is the way that Connie reacts to Arnold Friend. Even the first time she saw him Connie was put a bit off center, and I immediately knew that he was going to play some sinister role in the story. I was not disappointed, and the scene where he comes to her house and talks to her, which is most of the story actually, gave me the chills. But at the same time Connie seems to expect things to turn out the way that they do, and there are some sentences in the story that make me wonder if that’s not actually the way she wants it to turn out.
For instance, she goes out to the door and flirts with him, and even enjoys his attention, even though he has apparently been stalking her or worse and knows all sorts of things about her. His last name, “Friend,” makes him somehow seem even more evil than his speech when he talks. The way that he talks and the things that he says definitely play a big role in it, though, because he seems to be just saying things without any real understanding of what they mean beyond knowing that they are the sorts of things that a person like him should say.
I almost wonder if he’s supposed to be Satan or something like that, but in the end he seems not quite as evil as that because the tone of the story doesn’t really make it sound like we’re supposed to hate him entirely. He is still a very creepy character, but the way he keeps his promises and doesn’t do anything extremely violent makes me wonder how creepy we’re supposed to find him.
I think one of the main things Oates was trying for in this story is to show the confusion and the not always happy things that are involved in ...
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